Soprano Ukulele

Introduction

Every household should  have a ukulele (or uke)! I bought a Kauai soprano uke for my girlfriend to jam on when I’m playing guitar or mandolin but I’ve ended up playing it almost as much as her.


They are so easy to learn and as the most used chords can be formed with one or two fingers even complete novices can pick it up and make music. If you have kids and are bored of hearing recorder shrieking through the house then get one. If you always wanted to play an instrument but think of yourself as musically challenged then get one. Honestly I think everyone should get one. Even the £20 Ukuleles sound half decent but replacing strings for some higher quality nylgut ones (such as those in the link here) will make a huge difference in sound.


Strings

Aquila strings are the go-to strings for uke players both novice and professional. They also have the added benefit of reducing how often you need to tune the instrument as the stretch will settle down more quickly when new and the creep is more controlled. Talking about tuning you will probably need a tuner such as the one below, I have it and it works great. A soprano ukulele is usually tuned G4-C4-E4-A4. Some people tune to D but this (known as C tuning) is the most common. The Cherub tuner linked to allows either of these tunes to be selected but I suggest starting with C as most beginners books will be in C.

The petite size is obviously a huge advantage when it comes to the uke. A lot of people think of it as a small guitar but they are very different and ukuleles are usually strummed as opposed to plucked (they also have just four strings instead of six). That’s not to say they are any less an instrument than a guitar, check out Jake Shimabukuro on Youtube (in particular his incredible version of “While my guitar gently weeps“) to see what he can do! The tiny dimensions of a uke (a soprano ukulele is just 53cm from end to end) mean it can be chucked in a suitcase when heading on holiday. There is no excuse for not serenading the locals (at your own risk…).


 

Update

For those looking to spend a little more for an increase in quality I have put together the following summary for a friend:

Even the cheapest ukuleles are playable but it is worth replacing the strings with Aquila nylgut soprano strings on the cheap ones as this can make a huge difference to the quality of sound and how often retuning is required.
£20 Uke -Cheap, comes with a case, variety of colours (I’d go with natural). Non geared pegs though so will require retuning more regularly – beginner level
£36.99 Uke – Better wood (mahogany fret, rosewood fingerboard), geared pegs – this is the one I’d go for as an intermediate.
When the ukes get more expensive it becomes more about the types of wood, the brand, and the playability. None of these necessarily make it sound any better. If you want to spend more the tanglewood’s are pretty good for the money.
£71 Uke – This is a great buy and the included strings are high quality.
The strings on a uke last ages. The first two I suggested will need their strings replaced with the ones in the link above in order to sound nice but the third comes with these already.
You may want to buy a tuner as well (depends if the person you are buying it for can tune by ear or not). Any of the ones available from amazon will do but best if it clips directly to the uke as they aren’t the loudest of instruments!

 

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